For untold eons, before the very beginning of time, there existed only the Elder Gods and the One Being. We do not know their names, as even the Gods themselves do not address the Elder Gods by name (save the fallen Elder God Shinnok), and few now speak of the One Being at all. Nor do we know from whence these beings came but we do know that the One Being sustained himself by slowly draining the lifeforce of the Elder Gods, which caused the Elder Gods to cease warring against one another and battle their common foe.
Eventually, the Elder Gods succeeded in defeating the One Being, thanks to powerful weapons they had forged called the ‘Kamidogu’. Using these weapons, the Elder Gods cut the One Being into many pieces, which became the realms we inhabit. The six largest pieces became the primary realms of the universe: Earthrealm, the Netherrealm, Outworld, Edenia, Seido and the Chaosrealm. Each of these realms hides the Kamidogu which caused the One Being to split into that realm itself.
Numerous other realms were forged in this process, with the most notable in our sources being Osh-Tekk, Zaterra and Vaeternus, home to the vampiric Moroi species. Legends tell of other realms such as the Dreamrealm and Crystal Realm but such sources are vague.
It is said that a being who possesses all six Kamidogu would become nigh-unstoppable, so long as they possessed some sorcerous power enabling them to bind the six together. No being, however, has ever demonstrated sufficient power: it is likely one would need to wield the power of an Elder God to do so. It is also said that, should this happen, the One Being would in fact return to life and consciousness.
Some legends tell us that the consciousness of the One Being survived, that he has but slumbered since his defeat and that all of what we know of as existence is merely his dreams. Others tell us that the One Being remains conscious and actively seeks to return to power, destroying the realms in the process, to destroy the Elder Gods. Some even whisper that he influences some of the most powerful beings to inadvertently bring this about, such as the Dragon King, Onaga and his usurper, Emperor Shao Kahn.
With the defeat of the One Being, the Elder Gods saw that life would take form in the realms. They vowed to never interfere in the affairs of mortals where they themselves were not threatened or unless their commandments were directly and knowingly violated, yet they recognised that some governance and order was necessary lest the realms devolve into lawless anarchy.
To achieve this, the Elder Gods formed the Gods of the Realms from the matter which composes each realm. Our information on the Gods of other Realms is scarce, but we know that the Five Gods of Earthrealm are composed of Fire, Earth, Water, Wind and Lightning. The Wind God, most commonly known as Lord Fujin, and the God of Lightning and Thunder, most commonly known as Lord Raiden, have had the most contact with mortals through their adherents in the Far East. Lord Raiden is noted for his proclivity for mortals, forming friendships and paternal bonds with many throughout his innumerable millennia in his office as the Protector God of Earthrealm.
His counterpart in Outworld was Shao Kahn, though we have no knowledge of his name before he assumed rulership of Outworld himself and took the imperial title ‘Kahn’. Outworld as a realm is notoriously rife with warfare and combat and it has been observed that Shao Kahn grows in strength from being near combat. It has thus been hypothesised that Shao Kahn was the God of War before renouncing his godhood to seize control of Outworld directly. This would also provide some reasoning behind his ceaseless thirst for conquest and the power he seemingly draws from battle itself.
Other Outworld Gods are referenced but not named in our sources: it is possible these minor deities were either killed (Gods can be killed, though only through highly arcane and powerful means, although Elder Gods are truly immortal unless one destroys all of existence itself) and absorbed by Shao Kahn or now serve as chief acolytes in his worship.
The only other God we definitively know of is Lord Argus, protector of Edenia, though we have no knowledge of what Lord Argus was once the God of. Legends do tell of other Gods, such as Zaggot, God of Chaos and Chaosrealm and Abacus the Lord of Order but none can attest to their existence first hand.
The Elder Gods implemented one further device to impose order on the realms. To prevent constant and eternal warfare between the realms, they devised the sacred tournament known as ‘Mortal Kombat’. It is not known when this was devised or when the first was held, but its rules may not be violated by any being within the realms or under the power of the Elder Gods
Furthermore, it is unknown whether or not the rite of Mortal Kombat is de rigeur for any invasion or whether it must be declared by the target realm (similar to a trial by combat), or whether or not Mortal Kombat exists only between the primary realms, with the lesser realms bereft of such protection.
The sacred rules of Mortal Kombat are as follows.
· Should a realm wish to invade another, it’s greatest fighters must defeat the fighters of the target realm for ten generations straight in a tournament of martial arts, traditionally fought to the death. Although a fatality is not strictly necessary, the life of a defeated fighter is forfeit to the will of the victor.
· What constitutes a generation is unclear, particularly as it relates to the lifespan of certain beings (Edenians being so long-lived as to appear almost immortal to Earthrealmers), but the most famous series of Mortal Kombat tournaments, fought between Outworld and Earthrealm, featured a tournament every 50 years.
· The reigning champion from the previous tournament will be preserved in eternal youth by the Elder Gods for the purpose of defending their realm. They may be the only warrior representing their realm in subsequent tournaments: in such cases, the warriors from the other realm will combat each other for the right to face the champion.
· Should the target realm prove victorious even once, it will disrupt the span of victories, and thus require the invading realm to begin their victory count from zero once more.
· Once the ten victories have been secured, the barriers between the realms will be lowered and the invasion can begin. The invasion could still be fought off, however, as Mortal Kombat is no guarantee of success on a wider field.
· Should the invasion be successful, however, the invading realm is free to merge the target realm with itself. The methodology of doing so remains unclear, though it is rumoured that Shao Kahn would capture the essence of a ream in an orb and hide this orb somewhere in his domains: were the orb to be shattered, the bonds binding the two realms together would also be severed. It could be that this ‘lifeforce’ is the ‘Jinsei’ of each realm, if each realm has it’s own ‘Jinsei’ and that phenomenon is not unique to Earthrealm.
· During the invasion, the target realm is no longer under the jurisdiction of its Protector God and thus the Gods of that realm can offer no assistance in repelling the invasion.
· Violation of the rules of Mortal Kombat, be it in the wider sense or in the rules of the tournament itself, is likely to invoke the wrath of the Elder Gods themselves.
· The Gods of each realm may not interfere with the tournament directly, though they may mentor their warriors: it is, after all, ‘Mortal’ Kombat.
Next week, we'll be covering the rise and fall of Onaga, the Dragon King, and the prophecy of Armageddon! Only here at TYM!
The History of Mortal Kombat, Chapter 1: Genesis